Author Archives: Tom Vanderwell

About Tom Vanderwell

Married my high school sweetheart over 35 years ago. She still is my sweetheart and I'm blessed by that. A career in banking, a career in fundraising for an orphanage in Haiti, 5 kids, health issues, a lot of curves that I wasn't expecting. Throughout it all, I can say God is good and life is never boring.

A Clarification–Black Lives Matter

I have to admit that the first time I heard the phrase, Black Lives Matter, my internal reaction was, “Yeah, but why are they protesting about this?”  I didn’t get the nuanced differences between what different races and even what different families thought about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Wait, is it really a movement?  Or is it more of a protest point?  Or just a kind of talking point/rally cry that will get more people involved? 

Are there really people out there who think that Black Lives Matter is a slam against white lives?   As in it’s a zero sum game?  Huh? A zero sum game is a game where the winner takes home everything and the loser gets nothing?  Like  ‘The Survivor show – you know the original one where they drop 20 people somewhere in the wild and the one who survives the entire time wins $1,000,000?  Does #2 get $500,000?  I don’t think so.   I’m sure they win more than number 20, but no where near what the winner does.

Life is not a zero sum game.  If Black Lives Matter was a zero sum “game,” that would mean that for a black life to matter more, a white life would need to matter less.

Ah…. nope!   God didn’t set the world up that way.  He didn’t set things up so that if one people wins, then another one loses.  God set things up so that all can be blessed and there is room at his table for anyone who believes He is their God and their Savior.

So, Black Lives Matter is not an effort to make white lives matter less.  It doesn’t have to be that way.   It’s possible for a black life to matter more and the white lives still matter too.  We can be equal, but we aren’t.

And God says that’s wrong:

“It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.”  Acts 10::34-35 (The Message)

God says that all races and ethnicities are supposed to be equal.   When the Black Lives Matter “movement” came out, many white people countered with the saying,  “ALL lives matter.”

It’s like we were trying to play a game of “one better” with our neighbors and those we meet who aren’t caucasian like I am.   “Oh, well you’re saying that Black Lives Matter, huh?”   Just to show you that I’m a “bigger” man than you are, take this as our entry into the “Slogan of the Month” Club…..

“All Lives Matter!”   Ha! We have successfully put the people of color back in their nice little colored box and we can go on again living our white lives………

Not so fast.  If you wanted me to take you on a walk through history, I can show you very simply many stories in time where it is not true that all lives matter. I took a history class in college (I don’t remember a lot of the details – it’s been a few years) that was on Medieval European History.   It was frankly disgusting at how little lives matter there – especially lives that were not white.

When white people are co-opting the saying, “Black Lives Matter” they are, by saying, “All Lives Matter” saying that those who believe in the BLM statement are wrong.   Black Lives and Chinese Lives and Indian Lives and Canadian Lives and French Lives and American Lives and…….. all matter equally.  If that were true, then……

But we all know it’s not true. 

All Lives Don’t Matter Equally.

The Black Lives Matter movement is trying to bring attention to the fact that Black Lives are not treated like they are equal and they matter.  Want some examples?

Breanna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown……

Here’s a list of the fatal police shootings from January 1, 2015 to this week that was posted by the Washington Post.   I think you’ll find it a sobering list of 5,866 people who have been killed by the cops since January 1, 2015.   I have not analyzed the data to see how many were black yet, but I intend to and I will post the details.

Black lives are not currently treated equally, they aren’t now and they haven’t been for a long time.  If they aren’t treated equally, then you aren’t saying that black lives matter.

82467670_10156857828921966_2987504608860962816_nBlack Lives Matter as much as white lives.

Black Lives Matter as much as middle eastern lives.

Black Lives Matter so people from Africa should be given the same rights and respect as people from England.

And they aren’t.

Because we aren’t.

Yes, we.   I’ll be writing more about it as time goes on, but it’s kind of awkward when I have to look in the mirror and see a relatively middle aged white guy and then think that throughout the centuries and even throughout the Civil Rights era of 40 years ago, who were the people behind most of the ways that we didn’t treat black lives like they mattered AS MUCH AS white lives?

The middle aged white guys. 

As Pastor Darrell says,  “Say Amen or say, Ouch.”



Times Change…..But do they?

28276382_10155314382716966_3287178305439075791_nThanks to our “friend” (and I use that term very loosely), Mr. Zuckerberg, we get quite often reminded of things that happened it in the past.   Some of it is hilarious – I was going to throw some examples in – but I don’t think my kids would like that.

Some of them are just, “Oh I remember when we did that!”   Some of them are not so fun – “Wow, it’s been 5 years since I broke my finger?’  (I think it’s actually closer to 9 years.)  Or “man, did you see how much hair I had 11 years ago?”

And then there are the thoughtful pieces.   If we’ve been hanging out on here for a while, you know what I’m talking about – the pieces that are designed to make you think.   There are people out there who get a lot of attention – way more than I do.   Jen Hatmaker  Bob Goff, John Pavlowvitz, Benjamin Watson, Brandon at Hony, Nicholas Kristoff, just to mention a few.   They write and people pay attention. 

Recently, due to Facebook’s “memories” I came across some writing that I did about this time of year in 2014.  6 years ago – has anything changed?  So I read through what I wrote and oh my…….

There’s a lot of changes and looking back on it, I think there’s a lot more we can learn from what has transpired since then.   I’ve spent a number of hours this morning reading through what I wrote then and there’s a lot more big and small issues that need to be given a closer look to hopefully better understand what’s going on since then and now.

I’m working on rewriting, updating and refocusing those pieces based on what changes have happened since then.

I hope you’ll join me for the walk through these times.   I think we will all understand what is happening right now.   So, join me.

Hope to hear from you on it as well.




Tom V

Picture Post Series

I’m trying something different here. I’ve been collecting a whole bunch of pictures that other people have put on the web – typically Facebook, Instagram or something like that. Sometimes I will share some of my own thoughts after the picture, some times not.

Rest vs. Peace

Think about it.

In today’s world, with everything going on, with everything being different, with death tolls on the news every night, there is very little peace in the world. When there is very little peace, there is very little rest.

May God give us enough rest so we can work to be the peace our world needs and then we can all experience the peace and the rest.

That’s a goal to work for if you ask me…..



My kids have asked me…….

My brothers have asked me….

I’ve had friends ask me.


Why do you write? Why do you have so many words in your head that you want to put on paper (or electronic paper in the era of blogging…..?)

To quote what is probably the most popular musical/show of our time, “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?”  (That’s a topic for another day)

But it often brings to memory a story about my Dad and my Grandpa from when my Dad was a young kid.  I don’t know how old he was, but let’s just say he was in elementary school and one Saturday, he was “helping” my Grandpa in the garage.  Grandpa was a wonderful man and I love him to pieces but he never got above an 8th grade education and he wasn’t the most talkative person in the family.   So, on this Saturday, Dad is helping Grandpa and asking questions, rumor has it, at the rate of approximately 5 questions per minute.  Grandpa finally lost his patience and said, “HOWARD, why do you ask questions all of the time?  Why can’t you be quiet and just work with me?”  (Insert parental sigh that we all know.)

My Dad stopped what he was helping Grandpa with, looked at Grandpa and said, “But Dad, I’ve got questions!”

Why do I write?  Because I’ve got questions and more often than not, writing either helps me find the answers or it clarifies the questions.

“Because I’ve got questions……”


2020 is not very clear







Could we have more going on right now?

I listened to a podcast today that wrestled with questions about white evangelical Christianity  and its role in the current political quagmire that we find ourselves slogging through.   I have not read the book yet, but after listening to the Antioch Podcast talk about it, I think I need to.

We are in such a tumultuous time and during these times God will often use music to speak to his people.   Sometimes it is music that makes sense and very openly speaks about the struggle that you’re going through.

Sometimes it seems like it has nothing to do with what you’re going through.

Until later.

After the dust has settled.

After your heart has calmed down.

After the pain is settling down.

Look back and remember that song that you heard at just the right time?

Yeah, that wasn’t an accident.   Someone was using that to cheer you on.

For me, right now, it’s a new song by the group NeedtoBreathe…….

“I wanna be there when the voices in your head 

Are loud enough to make you lose your mind”

If you know some of the medical things I’ve got going on, you’d understand even more……